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Dymaxion Car Being Restored

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the car-of-the-future-yesterday dept.

Transportation 121

An anonymous reader notes that R. Buckminster Fuller's Dymaxion Car is being restored by the company Crosthwaite and Gardiner. Only three of the vehicles were produced in the 1930s and only one survives. "Synchronofile.com has been granted the great honor of announcing the restoration of the Dymaxion Car — because our readers are now invited to help in the project. Can you identify the manufacturer for the component shown at the link?"

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I recognize a flux capacitor when I see one (5, Funny)

jarocho (1617799) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511483)

I mean, it's so obvious.

Re:I recognize a flux capacitor when I see one (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29511637)

That's no component.

Re:I recognize a flux capacitor when I see one (1)

Fotograf (1515543) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511785)

why to search manufacturer, isnt better to just CNC it by your self?

Re:I recognize a flux capacitor when I see one (1)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29512205)

Not for a restoration project.

Re:I recognize a flux capacitor when I see one (1)

DaveAtWorkAnnoyingly (655625) | more than 5 years ago | (#29512059)

I'm not sure that they're still trading but I hope so. Their automatic intermittent side impact protection devices were the stuff of legends...

Crosthwaite and Gardiner. (4, Funny)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511499)

Now THAT'S a name that means quality. Say it a couple of times with a slightly chilled gin and vermouth resting idly in one hand and a fag in the other.

Slashdot Users (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29511837)

Slashdot users
Get their knowledge
From many years
In junior college.

Re:Slashdot Users (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29511859)

Burma Shave

Re:Crosthwaite and Gardiner. (-1, Offtopic)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511929)

and a fag in the other.

You do realize not everyone is British here, right?

Re:Crosthwaite and Gardiner. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29511991)

You do realize not everyone is British here, right?

You do realize not everyone is not British here, right?

Re:Crosthwaite and Gardiner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29512047)

You do realize not everyone is British here, right?

You do realize not everyone is not British here, right?

Fag.

Re:Crosthwaite and Gardiner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29512125)

You do realize not everyone is British here, right?

You do realize not everyone is not British here, right?

Fag.

Cigarette.

Re:Crosthwaite and Gardiner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29512071)

You do realize not everyone is British here, right?

You do realize not everyone is not British here, right?

You do not realize not everyone is not British here, right?

Re:Crosthwaite and Gardiner. (1)

zygotic mitosis (833691) | more than 5 years ago | (#29514773)

You don't not unrealize not no one isn't not unBritish here, incorrect?

Re:Crosthwaite and Gardiner. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29512065)

Are you that immature, and do you presume anyone not British to be equally immature as to interpret that as some junior high "you said fag huhuhuh" joke?

Re:Crosthwaite and Gardiner. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29512079)

at least it wasn't a nigger joke. there's always that.

Re:Crosthwaite and Gardiner. (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#29512987)

"Are you that immature, and do you presume anyone not British to be equally immature as to interpret that as some junior high "you said fag huhuhuh" joke?"

An immature joke does not imply an immature jester or even an immature audience. I'm 50 and I still get the occasional chuckle out of the way "fanny" is used in the US. The city in SE Asia called "Phuket" also amuses me in a Bevis and Butthead kinda way.

Personally I found the OP's joke too obvious to be funny but why do you feel compelled to throw a wet blanket on it and him? Even if you are a fag (or a smoker) I can't see anything offensive and nor is that what you are complaining about.

Is it that difficult for you to show a different kind of maturity and just be indifferent (or even pleased) that someone else is having a laugh?

Re:Crosthwaite and Gardiner. (1)

Sardaukar86 (850333) | more than 5 years ago | (#29513165)

Is it that difficult for you to show a different kind of maturity and just be indifferent (or even pleased) that someone else is having a laugh?

That is an excellent question, one I wish was considered more broadly and frequently than the fleeting forum a momentary flash of brilliance in a random slashdot post offers.
As far as your sense of humour goes, all I have to say is Thank God for Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Crosthwaite and Gardiner. (1)

Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) | more than 5 years ago | (#29513857)

... and no reference would be complete without a mention of the work that they did for Audi restoring Auto Unions from the 30s:

http://www.ianmacfarlane.co.uk/ianHome.htm [ianmacfarlane.co.uk]
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=i7pI99iOezo [youtube.com]

(I was lucky enough to see the both reproduction and restored C and D types running at Donington a few years ago)

Pretty cool ride, actually (5, Informative)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511533)

From Wikipoedia:

The Dymaxion car was a concept car designed by U.S. inventor and architect Buckminster Fuller during 1933. The word Dymaxion is a brand name that Fuller gave to several of his inventions, to emphasize that he considered them part of a more general project to improve humanity's living conditions. The car had a fuel efficiency of 30 miles per US gallon (7.8 L/100 km; 36 mpg-imp). It could transport 11 passengers. While Fuller claimed it could do speeds of 120 miles per hour (190 km/h), the fastest documented speed was 90 miles per hour (140 km/h).
not bad for a 30's car and a V8 (albeit an 84hp V8).

Re:Pretty cool ride, actually (4, Informative)

wisty (1335733) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511647)

It's on Damn Interesting as well: http://www.damninteresting.com/the-extraordinary-dymaxion-automobile [damninteresting.com]

The car flopped because the prototype had a fatal accident in an auto show, so the investors pulled out.

Re:Pretty cool ride, actually (3, Informative)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511951)

More precisely,

The Dymaxion was later exonerated when an investigation showed that the other driver had likely been at fault, but the damage wreaked by the negative press had condemned the project to the scrap heap of history.

Re:Pretty cool ride, actually (3, Insightful)

Slugster (635830) | more than 5 years ago | (#29513543)

The car was dangerous because it used rear-wheel steering.
In at least this respect, B. Fuller should have taken the advice of automotive industry engineers of the day, who would have told him that this (steering arrangement) was a waste of time. It is generally presumed to be impossible to build a mechanical rear-wheel-steering system that exhibits positive stability (that being the natural tendency to hold a straight line, AND to return to a straight line on its own when you release the steering controls in a turn).

Positive stability isn't necessary for slow vehicles such as forklifts and construction and agricultural tractors, but it is critical for high-speed vehicles.

I recall reading that one (Dymaxion) was eventually converted to front-wheel steering, just so that it could to an exhibition run on a test track at typical car speeds.
~

Re:Pretty cool ride, actually (4, Interesting)

xmundt (415364) | more than 5 years ago | (#29514037)

Greetings and salutations...
          First off, please understand that I consider Bucky Fuller to be in the running for the smartest inventor of the 20th century, and, (at least SO far) the 21st, so I have a small amount of bias towards him. Do a bit of research and SEE what basic parts of today's society his inventions have become - say, like Celotex.
          Now, as for the Dymaxion car... Here is an interesting link that seems to be a pretty complete history.
http://www.washedashore.com/projects/dymax/chronology.html
          The car was, as is pointed out, a concept car, and, was in the process of evolving through its three incarnations. Each one was further away from the "pie in the sky" design, and closer to something that could be put in the hands of the average idiot, without them killing themselves in the first thirty minutes. The car also had some PRETTY innovative designs in it, including state of the art materials, and, individual suspension on all the wheels, with a decoupling of the body from the chassis, producing a VERY smooth ride. In "the Dymaxion world of Buckminster Fuller", it is quoted that the car could drive across a plowed field, at high speed, with the passengers feeling very little vibration or jostling.
              I also question your assertion that rear wheel steering is unstable or dangerous. It is, I agree, different in its response to steering commands, but, I am not entirely sure that it is SO different that it is hard to get used to. I would think that the appropriate caster angle would tend to push the steered wheel back to a straight position, just as it works with front steered vehicles.
              Your recollection as correct, but incomplete, as the third model of the Dymaxion car was a ALL-WHEEL steered vehicle.
                Another poster says something about the danger of roll-overs. Fuller understood physics quite well, which is why the single wheel was located in the rear. Trikes are only prone to rolling over because the force vectors are unsupported by a single FRONT wheel. By putting the two wheels up front, it brings great stability to the vehicle. As an example of this...take a wheel barrow...put a bunch of stone in it, then, try pushing it along the ground, with the single wheel out front. It is hard to keep it upright and stable, and, to make turns. Then, take the same wheelbarrow, and, PULL it along by the handles. All of a sudden that wheelbarrow becomes a model of stability and maneuverability.
                Regards
              Dave Mundt

The Dynamaxion was one of the worst designs ever. (4, Interesting)

RingDev (879105) | more than 5 years ago | (#29515407)

The 2-front 1-rear three wheeler design is vastly supervisor to the 1-front 2-rear. But the big problem I see with the Dynamaxion is three fold:

1) In an emergency situation, people react by crushing the break pedal. In a front wheel steering car this increases the down force on the steering wheels, improving traction, and gives the driver more control over the car. In a rear wheel steering vehicle, when the breaks are applied hard, weight still transfers from the rear axle to the front. But that means less down-force on the rear wheel and less steering control.

2) The cab forward design of the body put the majority of the vehicle's weight over the front axle already making the vehicle steer and handle worth a crap even under only moderate breaking.

3) The accident that kill the driver was the other vehicle's driver's fault. But that driver was guilty of following too close. When the driver of the Dynamaxion hit the breaks (transferring weight to the front axle, and the person following too close hit the REAR of the Dynamaxion, the vehicle flipped forward. Even though it was the other drivers fault, it was the incredibly poor design of the vehicle that allowed it to roll in such a manor.

There were amazing technological feats to this car, but the single rear wheel steering combined with the cab forward body was absolutely 100% retarded.

If you want to see the pinnacle of 3-wheeler technology, look into the T-Rex http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T-Rex_(automobile) [wikipedia.org] And Aptera http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aptera_2e [wikipedia.org] or some of the tilt-steering prototypes.

-Rick

Re:Pretty cool ride, actually (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#29516377)

Looks like he invented the first mini van!

Wait for it..

For Soccer moms.

Yes, it's a joke that requires thinking, sorry.

Re:Pretty cool ride, actually (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29511701)

damm.. 1933 and it got 36 mpg.

76 years later. and my car gets 34 mpg.

theres something really wrong with this...

Re:Pretty cool ride, actually (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29511919)

wrong. 1933 it got 36mpg WITH A V8 ENGINE and a 20 FOOT LONG BODY.
geniuses like fuller arent around anymore. dont you love progress ?
 

Re:Pretty cool ride, actually (2, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 5 years ago | (#29514355)

wrong. 1933 it got 36mpg WITH A V8 ENGINE and a 20 FOOT LONG BODY.
geniuses like fuller arent around anymore. dont you love progress ?

I've long been a fan of this vehicle, but it's basically a light airplane fuselage stripped of wings and control surfaces. Of course it will have great economy and straight-line performance. That doesn't make it a practical, comfortable or safe ground vehicle.

Modern computerized control systems could probably address its stability issues, but a competitive modern version would probably have to be much heavier to provide crashworthiness, sound deadening, climate control, etc. Highway mileage would always be great because of the aerodynamic shape (and that's probably what gets quoted for the original vehicle). City mileage probably wouldn't be much better than any midsized SUV (and I suspect the original city mileage wasn't so great with its flathead engine).

Re:Pretty cool ride, actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29514459)

It got 36 MPG in 1933 with 84 hp. Here in 2009, I have to deal with only 38 MPG with 180 hp.

Funny how the connotation changes completely when you focus on a different set of numbers.

Re:Pretty cool ride, actually (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29515201)

I love knowing that I've got a pretty good chance of surviving a rollover in my modern car, yeah. That's progress.

Re:Pretty cool ride, actually (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29512067)

That we still use fossils.

Is it Shenzhen Kiss-jia Company? (1)

kabloom (755503) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511535)

Is it the Shenzhen Kiss-jia Company [kiss-jia.com] ?

More info you worthless editors! (3, Informative)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511543)

After reading the "summary" and all the links I still don't know what any of this means. From what I gather three cars were made in the 1930s and they need to know who made the turn signals. Thats about all so far....

Re:More info you worthless editors! (2, Funny)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511573)

You'll know more than most slashdotters after the 3MB of images linked from the summary brings that server to its knees.

Re:More info you worthless editors! (2, Funny)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511847)

Car by the guy [wikipedia.org] who got buckminsterfulerine or buckyballs [wikipedia.org] (of nanotechnology fame) named after him. Famous for his geodesic dome designs. He was somewhat of a quirky inventor type. Now hand in your geek card ;-)

Pictures (5, Informative)

vxvxvxvx (745287) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511551)

Seriously, an article on some obscure car should include at least one image so we know what the heck it's talking about.

http://www.washedashore.com/projects/dymax/pictures.html

Re:Pictures (2, Informative)

anomalous cohort (704239) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511825)

It isn't the car that makes the story news worthy. It is the inventor. Bucky Fuller was an extremely visionary and inspirational engineer. He predates software so don't hold it against him but he was an individual holder of about 50 patents of which the Dymaxion car was one. He had a bit of a post mortem come back last year with an exhibit at the Whitney [blogspot.com] .

Re:Pictures (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#29513057)

I'd say a one of a kind vintage car is news-worthy by itself, but the fact that it was Bucky's car also makes it geek-news-worthy.

My dad used to take me to vintage rallys when I was a kid in the 60's. TFA reminds me of a car that used to show up at most of the rallys. It had one ornate kerosene headlamp, there was a card inside the lamp offering a reward for "my other eye". The card was there for at least 10yrs that I know of, I often wonder if he found it?

Re:Pictures (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 5 years ago | (#29512645)

There's something about it that looks disturbingly like a very large cockroach.

Re:Pictures (2, Informative)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 5 years ago | (#29513297)

There's a video [youtube.com] of the car in action, as well. Apparently Amelia Earhart is in the back seat.

Re:Pictures (1)

brackishboy (1432215) | more than 5 years ago | (#29514249)

That rear wheel steering is something else as far as turning circle goes, but I can see myself doing a three point turn and wiping out several innocent pedestrians by accident :-)

We need help too. (5, Funny)

shadowblaster (1565487) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511553)

Hi it's Iran here, we need help re-constructing this piece of history [wikipedia.org] .

Details of components can be found by following the link above.

Easy enough... (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 5 years ago | (#29512795)

Just aim a cannon[loaded with a fissionable warhead at high velocity] at some fissionable material. The more FM, the better.
Just make sure you try this at 'home', after all, it's not rocket surgery...;-)

Re:Easy enough... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#29513083)

"The more FM, the better."

I think it's best to stop loading FM before the cannon gets hot enough to cook breakfast on, YMMV.

Re:Easy enough... (1)

james_shoemaker (12459) | more than 5 years ago | (#29516137)

But the link was to fat man. Fat man was a plutonium implosion device, much more complicated than the simple uranium gun mechanism in Little Boy. You can't use the simple gun mechanism on Plutonium.

James

Cool - when can I order one? (3, Interesting)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511569)

I'd prefer a hybrid, though, and something with a bit better stability control. I'm not sure the Model T engine could work without a bit of a pollution update - make the roof glass and power it with a Stirling engine from the thermal load?

Just kidding here. But it was a beautiful idea. RBF may have been a crackpot, but he was my sort of crackpot - no axiom sacred. Yes, they weren't exactly safe, but then Ralf Nader wouldn't have passed on the Model A Ford-era cars with their beam front axles and rather philosophical approach to braking and steering, either.

Re:Cool - when can I order one? (1)

TheBilgeRat (1629569) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511581)

true- of course in most rural areas of the day the "philosophical" approach to steering in the model t would perhaps just ruin a fence or two and startle the cattle. :)

Re:Cool - when can I order one? (0)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511605)

    You know, a hybrid car with a sterling engine wouldn't really be that bad of an idea.

    I had thought up a few practical(ish) applications for Sterling engines, but couldn't find anywhere to buy a working one of any substantial size. Sure, I've found instructions on making one with a couple soda cans, but nothing that would make a few HP and spin a generator head.

    How well would a hybrid parked in the sun do, if you could produce say 11hp to spin a 6Kw generator head all day? Heck, temperature differentials should make it generate power most of the day and night too. :) I'm sure 6Kw would do a lot towards recharging or maintaining a battery bank.

    But, back on topic, that car looked kinda scary. :) And like any innovation, they won't be accepted by the people if their design is dramatically different from what they're used to. There's a good reason that the first cars resembled a horse and buggy (sans horse). People were used to the shape, so they liked it. That car looks more like an airstream trailer. :)

Re:Cool - when can I order one? (2, Interesting)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511743)

Stirling with an "i". Have a look at Whispergen [whispergen.com] in New Zealand. They sell commercial Stirling engine applications in bulk as home MicroCHP (Combined Heating and Power) generators. They might sell you just the engine, if you're truly interested.

Re:Cool - when can I order one? (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511999)

    Thanks for the link.

    The most practical application that I wanted to find info for was a friend in Alaska. They're in geothermal active areas, so a subterranean loop would provide for a very warm side, always warmer than the cool side of the ambient air. A lot of people up there live off-grid, and have to truck, boat, or fly diesel fuel in to keep their generators going. That's a cumbersome task in mid winter.

    For us folks farther south, I liked the idea of using the sun and ground water (or soil) for the temperature differential.

    It seems that they aren't providing 120VAC 60Hz, according to their own contact page. But hey, if they can provide the engine half, it should be possible to mate it to the generator side.

Pardon my ignorance... (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 5 years ago | (#29512861)

Does it have to be 120VAC 60Hz?
I know inverters lose energy in the conversion, but could not DC at *some* voltage be usable/efficient enough to make this worthwhile for examination/exploration?

I am just asking, 'cause I am out of my area of expertise here, and am probably off course if it hasn't been done yet....just curious.

Maybe it's more efficient to use *n*VAC and not convert to DC, or to optimise VAC to the engine?
On the surface, to a layman, this may seem possible...or I am truly over my head here and clueless. If so, please throw me a bone/clue!

Re:Pardon my ignorance... (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 5 years ago | (#29514187)

    It's just a matter of what you're trying to power with it. :)

    I'm converting a city bus to be an RV, and have been looking at what's available in a lot of different ways. For electrical stuff, I could go with any standard, since I'm starting with a blank slate. It provides 12VDC and 24VDC. Ideally, I would want to go with 24VDC for everything, but it's not exactly easy to find COTS equipment like that. In other words, if the refrigerator or TV fails, you can't just run down to a local store and pick up a 24VDC or 240VAC 50Hz replacement. :) Of course, this is all dependent on where you are.

    For my RV, I'm basing it on 12VDC and converting to 120VAC 60Hz as needed.

Re:Cool - when can I order one? (1)

thejynxed (831517) | more than 5 years ago | (#29513587)

Here are some sites you might be interested in:

http://howardhallfarm.com/freewatt.html [howardhallfarm.com]
http://www.infiniacorp.com/ [infiniacorp.com]
http://www.mrsolar.com/ [mrsolar.com]
http://www.dodsbir.net/selections/abs071/osdabs071.htm [dodsbir.net]
http://www.stirling-tech.com/ [stirling-tech.com]

You might want to also contact the Honda Motor Company, as they mass produce the engine type you are interested in (they use them in their Hybrids).

Re:Cool - when can I order one? (2, Funny)

kybred (795293) | more than 5 years ago | (#29512041)

Stirling with an "i".

Perhaps he wants an engine made of Sterling silver [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Cool - when can I order one? (2, Informative)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511897)

...something with a bit better stability control

Yes, well, anybody who has flown a taildragger can understand why this car could never be "naturally" stable. The usual experiment with a shopping cart can dramatically show you why.

KSJ (1)

zobier (585066) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511591)

Surely a skilled machinist could just make a matching turn signal indicator from scratch.

A quick google reveals
KSJ Auto Sales NJ
KSJ Auto Parts Malaysia
KSJ Engineering India

Re:KSJ (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511727)

Yeah, it looks like a pretty standard school bus turn signal lamp to me. Hard to tell for sure without a better idea of the size, though. It would have been helpful if they had included some sort of scale in the photo.

Re:KSJ scale (1)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 5 years ago | (#29512033)

You mean some sort of scale such as a thumb, the standard for the inch? It's about 3 inches across, The K-S-J is perhaps 3/4ths of an inch wide.

Re:KSJ scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29515171)

Henry VIII's thumb was an inch, YTMV (Your Thumb May Vary)

Re:KSJ (3, Informative)

SEWilco (27983) | more than 5 years ago | (#29512099)

They're undoubtedly trying to fix it with original parts. It's counted as original parts if it's the same part, even if it comes from a rusty hulk in someone's barn. The unit shown can be restored with sandblasting, polishing, painting, and replating. So they're probably looking for a missing part for the other side of the vehicle. I doubt that this vehicle would have had ordinary lights on it. So if it's not a custom part, maybe it's an aftermarket accessory. I don't have any 1932 automotive catalogs, and their availability would be limited due to questionable copyright status.

30 MPG... in the 1930s (4, Interesting)

Jon Abbott (723) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511659)

According to the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] , the Dymaxion car had 30 MPG and could transport 11 passengers with only three wheels. Suck on that, Detroit.

Re:30 MPG... in the 1930s (3, Insightful)

SEAL (88488) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511963)

If you took that thing and updated it to meet current U.S. safety and emissions requirements, you'd get nowhere near the same gas mileage.

Re:30 MPG... in the 1930s (1, Interesting)

martinX (672498) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511981)

Balance that with modern light alloys and I'm not so sure.

Re:30 MPG... in the 1930s (2, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#29512531)

The thing had a canvas roof. You don't get much lighter than that.

The GP was correct; this car's efficiency would drop like a rock if brought up to spec. Heck, it'd drop like a rock if you merely tested the existing thing on a modern drivecycle. Also, the rear wheel steering was a really, really bad idea.

Re:30 MPG... in the 1930s (3, Insightful)

putaro (235078) | more than 5 years ago | (#29512229)

Oh yeah, because all of those cars from the sixties and early seventies got such great gas mileage before they had to add the emissions control equipment. And the cars were so much lighter then too without seatbelts and air bags.

Re:30 MPG... in the 1930s (1)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 5 years ago | (#29515093)

You're comparing the wrong eras.
Try comparing the weight of an 80s or 90s car to the same class today.
The Honda Accord, for example, has gained about 550 KG (1200 pounds) over its various iterations.
I don't know how much of this is due to attempts to make the car more comfortable and quiet, and how much is due to safety regulations, but efficiency gains are definitely being eaten by weight gains.

Re:30 MPG... in the 1930s (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#29512371)

But it didn't have to carry all the now-required safety and pollution-control features. Those add weight and inefficiency.

Re:30 MPG... in the 1930s (1)

pitterpatter (1397479) | more than 5 years ago | (#29512615)

Also according to the Wikipedia article, it made 85 horsepower. I didn't see how much it weighed, but unless it was under a ton it would underperform modern expectations when merging onto an interstate.

unusual if (2, Interesting)

alien9 (890794) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511673)

great car analogies come by.
It is said that the fatal crash which cursed the prototype was due to astonishment.
Despite its remarkable innovations the Dymaxion car misfitted common sense.

Here's the photo. Looks like American design. (1)

zymano (581466) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511717)

Euro's are shaking.

http://0p3nfr4m3w0rk.org/install/dymaxion-car.jpg [0p3nfr4m3w0rk.org]

Re:Here's the photo. Looks like American design. (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 5 years ago | (#29511749)

Looks like American design

Looks more like the gondola of a blimp to me.

Re:Here's the photo. Looks like American design. (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 5 years ago | (#29514643)

The Euro's what are shaking and why? Because an American architect built a car in America? I mean, the Euro wasn't even around back then and it only was on the American-architects-don't-build-cars standard very shortly.

speaking as an amateur machinist... (2, Insightful)

neuroxmurf (314717) | more than 5 years ago | (#29512037)

Who *cares* who made the part? It'd obviously be trivial for any competent machine shop to duplicate.

Re:speaking as an amateur machinist... (2, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#29513405)

It's sheet metal, not machined from stock, so that machine shop would have to produce dies for the job.
Do-able, but it would be several hundred dollars worth of work at least for the shell, then more money to duplicate the lens. Looks like a generic add-on light of the era.

Posting the thing in Hemmings Motor News along with contacting appropriate firms for help would make much more sense.

Anyone who restores old cars should be thoroughly familiar with Hemmings, which has been around for decades:

http://www.hemmings.com/ [hemmings.com]

Re:speaking as an amateur machinist... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#29516581)

No, it could be cut from existing materials. Anyone who is good with metal could recreate it.

Crumpet catcher (1)

SpaghettiPattern (609814) | more than 5 years ago | (#29512641)

This car is a looker. Suave and vibrant are the words that come to my mind when I see the pictures. Galls would yearn to be picked up, shagged and brought home in this absolute crumpet catcher. Definitively worth an article on /.

Re:Crumpet catcher (2, Insightful)

Bowdie (11884) | more than 5 years ago | (#29512695)

Heh, "crumpet catcher" nice.

Although I believe the historically correct nomenclature is "Vaginal lodestone"

Strumpet catcher on rye.... (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 5 years ago | (#29512943)

Galls would yearn to be picked up...

[my emphasis on OP's spelling choice]

Do you mean Gauls [wikipedia.org] , Gals [wikipedia.org] , or 'gals'[as in females].
Or is this some kind of kinky gall bladder pr0n I have not heard of yet....

You need to be more specific.....this is /. after all...Definitively worth an article on /. ;-)

And don't blame this on 'sticky keys' either....Clean Off/Out Your Keyboard!!!!

The obvious question that should be asked... (1)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 5 years ago | (#29513379)

Why, in seventy years, haven't we seen anything half as innovative in either design or efficiency come to market?

To my mind this in itself is reason enough for Detroit to have wound up a wholly owned subsidiary of the US government, which also guarantees that we will never see anything remotely progressive taking to the road in these United States.

Yugo anyone?

Re:The obvious question that should be asked... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#29513563)

There have been plenty of 40+ mpg cars with anemic engines and minimal metal brought to market; most people don't buy them.

Re:The obvious question that should be asked... (1)

wc_paladin (989918) | more than 5 years ago | (#29514915)

anemic engines

This had a V8 and more room than a tiny subcompact.

Re:The obvious question that should be asked... (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 5 years ago | (#29515683)

This had a V8 and more room than a tiny subcompact.

An *anemic* V8. A typical modern 4-cylinder (and even a few 3-cylinder) economy car engines are more powerful than that one.

The OP also said the car had minimal metal. He didn't say that the small amount of metal wasn't stretched out over a large interior volume.

Re:The obvious question that should be asked... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#29516715)

I know it's ahrd to tell from car commercials, but engin power is determined be a lot of factoirs, and the number of cylynders is just one.

For example, what id each cylinder was only 1 inch in diameter. You wouldn't get a lot of power.

I used an extreme examples to make a point.

Re:The obvious question that should be asked... (1)

Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) | more than 5 years ago | (#29513893)

Perhaps because, while it was visionary in a number of areas it wasn't actually very good as a car?

Re:The obvious question that should be asked... (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 5 years ago | (#29514325)

Right on. People get so engrossed in the hero-worship of kooky "inventors" that they seem to check all and any critical abilities at the door.

As for this wacko of a "car", one could ask questions like: How do you install windshield wipers on a curved window composed of a bunch of panes? What is the dynamic stability of this three-wheeled wonder when turning at 120 km/h? Side wind, anyone? What is the traction one can get of a single rear mounted wheel transferring the entire output of the power-train on a slippery road covered with snow and ice? Etc etc etc.

Re:The obvious question that should be asked... (1)

jtev (133871) | more than 5 years ago | (#29515215)

Um, it's front wheel drive and there are two wheels on the front. Yes the rear wheel steering caused some trouble, but not actually that much. It was a concept car, and yes, there was an accident, caused by someone else, that caused it to not go into full production. We'll never know if it would have worked as a production car or not.

Re:The obvious question that should be asked... (1)

IgnoramusMaximus (692000) | more than 5 years ago | (#29515603)

Yes the rear wheel steering caused some trouble, but not actually that much.

The single rear wheel steering system hasn't been used by any manufacturer on any serious car (save $200 rickshaw bicycle/motorbike conversions somewhere in the Orient) during all of these decades with many millions of vehicles produced. I find it rather unlikely that a workable concept would be ignored by countless engineers world over for the last 60 years or so...

And there is still the problem of general dynamic stability, by definition more problematic with 3 wheels than with 4, not to mention the weird windshield and so on...

In short no one has tried to do this again simply because it was kooky to begin with, not because some world-spanning, anti-innovation, anti-Buckminster conspiracy as the tin-foil hats would have us believe.

Taking this seriously... (2, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#29513949)

The Dymaxion was a product of its time. The "innovation" is that it steers the way every boat has since someone thought "why not fix the steering oar to the back end and waggle it?"

It's been similarly pointed out that electric vehicles were very successful - at the end of the 19th century, because lead acid cell powered vehicles work well at horse speeds and horse ranges. Once the IC engine made much higher speeds and longer ranges possible, the electric buggy was dead.

Once trucks started their steady growth and road traffic started to rise, something like this would be too unsafe and too unmanoeuverable at higher speeds.

The reason you haven't seen anything so innovative in 70 years is that the last 70 years have had constant steady progress. Now, in 2009, a volume car maker can have a low cost vehicle with antilock brakes, power steering, air con, a high-efficiency Diesel engine, and roadholding and reliability unimaginable 30 years ago, let alone 70. If anybody had a really dramatic breakthrough - unlikely - they would have to get it to market faster and cheaper than the existing industry could improve their product to achieve the same thing. Look at the Prius, which is basically a California Special because the likes of VW and BMW can outgun it on nearly every front using existing technology.

There may be a future for electric bicycles running on dedicated cycle tracks - if the "pedalling is good" nutters don't force you off the road - but it will take a very fast, very dramatic environmental change to cause a step function rather than incremental development.

Re:Taking this seriously... (3, Interesting)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 5 years ago | (#29516635)

The reason you haven't seen anything so innovative in 70 years is that the last 70 years have had constant steady progress.

Not to rain on that parade, but in the mid-1930s we had V-8 engines for cars, which could accommodate no more than 6 passengers comfortably and got well under 30 MPG. Airplanes one the other hand had rotary engines a la the Armstrong-Siddeley [flightglobal.com] or Pratt & Whitney [wikipedia.org] , carrying up to 14 passengers and with flight range capabilities of up to 745 miles.

Today we have 4 cylinder engines in cars that can barely accommodate four adults comfortably, let alone six, with a few models sporting MPG ratings in the 40+ range, but with fleet averages still far below that. Contrast that with aircraft, which have enjoyed brutes like this one [geae.com] for decades, and whose carrying capacities have increased geometrically since the 1930's and whose range can extend to the thousands of miles.

Anti-lock brakes, power steering, GPS in-dash navigation, and all the other bells and whistles are all well and good. But aside from computer controls and fuel injection (another technology from the last century), we are still being driven by the same engine Henry Ford used, in little metal (though now increasingly plastic) compartments not radically different from those used in 1930.

If the same attention to innovation and invention had been nurtured in the automotive industry as it was in the aircraft industry who knows what we'd be "driving" now.

Re:The obvious question that should be asked... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29513959)

"Why, in seventy years, haven't we seen anything half as innovative in either design or efficiency come to market?"

Your fundamental error is that you assume your own lack of knowledge about what has been developed is an accurate representation
of what has actually happened in the past 70 years. The Dymaxion was not actually a very good car, but Fuller was an incredibly
skilled self-promoter. Car design and construction has come a long way since the Dymaxion car, and just because you aren't aware
of this doesn't mean it hasn't happened.

Re:The obvious question that should be asked... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#29515839)

Why, in seventy years, haven't we seen anything half as innovative in either design or efficiency come to market?

One word: Aptera [aptera.com]

The real reason that we haven't seen innovation is that we have allowed the automobile industry to be structured in such a way that rewards huge, monolithic corporations rather than entrepreneurs. Why do we need huge dealer/distributor networks for cars, when everything else can be purchased over the web? Why do we have parts and service departments that only work on one brand of car? Why are all vehicles REQUIRED to have a catalytic converter, regardless of whether or not they could meet emissions standards without it? Why are safety standards to onerous and hard to meet? And finally, why do we allow companies to become "to big to fail" so that when the market clearly demonstrates their business model is flawed, the government "must" bail them out? (Chrysler in the 80's, GM and Chrysler again in 2009...) Fuck the monolithic corporations -- let them fail. Just pass laws forbidding the export of the failed companies assets outside the country, and another, more efficient company would rise from the ashes, replacing many of the lost jobs.

Re:The obvious question that should be asked... (1)

oDDmON oUT (231200) | more than 5 years ago | (#29516725)

One word: Aptera

OMG! Thanks for that link. This is one worth watching.

As for the rest of your points... I couldn't agree more, especially with "Fuck the monolithic corporations -- let them fail."

Bailouts prevent Darwinian principles from thinning the herd.

Re:The obvious question that should be asked... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#29516681)

What? Car are far more efficient, and more innovative.

Yeah, the government has never done anything progressive~

Of course all the American auto manufactures are completly changing and innovating right now. The ONLY role the government has to do with these companies is high end financial. So fi Dodge wanted to buy another company, the government would need to approve. The government isn't in the engineering and design meeting.

Where Did Fuller Get His Ideas? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#29515405)

Maybe from something like this?

http://www.spaceagepaint.com/custom.aspx?id=15 [spaceagepaint.com]

I wonder how many similar cars were built at the time?

Cool, but fatally flawed (2, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#29515727)

The car steered with its single rear wheel. While not totally impractical, this does make it unstable and hard to drive. With front wheel drive instead, it would look very much like a larger capacity Aptera. Not bad for being designed 70 years earlier. (I like the rest of the design. I just think there might be a reason why nobody uses rear wheel steering. The Northrop University "White Lightening" human-powered vehicle also used the setup of driving the front wheels and steering the rear wheel. Feedback from the drivers was that it was difficult to steer correctly, and took a lot of getting used to.)

Re:Cool, but fatally flawed (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 5 years ago | (#29516733)

"I just think there might be a reason why nobody uses rear wheel steering."

Apply brakes in a curve and you'd promptly swap ends. It would steer like a pallet jack.

Big project (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 5 years ago | (#29515845)

They're trying to restore the entire car, and all they have to start with is a turn signal light? And they're looking to replace that! Looks like a lot of remanufacturing will need to occur.

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